Info for New Photo Students

HS Media Workshop 2009

Welcome to school.
I am always asked what gear and software students will need in the Point Park University Photojournalism B.A and Photography B.F.A. program. I’m also often asked about what a student can expect in the program.

I’ll break down your anticipated needs and expectations by class level.

35mm film SLR cammera
Yes, that is correct, film. Your first two semesters, and possibly more if you choose, will be film based. We use the traditional wet process to give you a solid foundation in the basics and historical relevance of traditional photography. Understanding the darkroom process will give you the vocabulary and skills you need to be a better digital photographer.

The university does have a few to loan out on a first come first serve basis. This is handy if you aren’t sure you want to stay in photography as a major.

I’d also stick to using the schools computers until you are sure of your preferences (MAC or PC)

By now you should be committed to one of the photography majors. Your education will begin to shift into the digital world quite rapidly. It would be my advice to spend your money on an lower end camera body kit and use the schools loaner lenses. We have Nikon glass. You will have the opportunity to try out a few thing before making a big commitment to quality lenses for yourself. You may also want to consider a computer that has the ability to be upgraded over the next year or two to keep pace. Bear this in mind that no matter the computer you buy now it will be obsolete before you know it. Consider a student version of the latest Photoshop Suite. You should be shooting for the student media and be looking for opportunities to lead and move up.

You are a serious student now. Your function now shifts from ‘learning’ photography basics to experimenting on your own with new techniques and bouncing the results off of your classmates and teachers. refining your skills and learing all that you can from others. You should be building your professional network and begin looking for an internship. You should be an active member or a leader in the student media and belong to an outside professional organization like NPPA or ASMP.
You should be investing in good glass for your camera, f2.8 or faster. Your first lens should cover a good range like 28-105mm. A second lens should be an 80-200. If you can swing a third, consider a super-wide lens for tight situations.
You will need the ability to process images on your own computer to meet class deadlines. It is also quite likely that you could land your first freelance assignment, you’ll need the flexibility of your own gear to complete the assignment. You’ll be learning multimedia and will need video editing software like Final Cut Express or Adobe Premiere.

Within a year you will graduate. You must enter into the business 100% and support yourself soon. Networking and portfolio building will be your mantra for the year. Knowing the right people will get you places, also you should be ritualistically checking the NPPA job data bank and others for opportunities. Shooting for the student media and the Point Park News Service should be a big part of your routine. Generating multimedia and shooting video should be things you are willing and able to do. Resistance is futile, this is the future. Position yourself to take advantage of it. Creating your own opportunities will be imperative to your success in the future. Ask members of the local chapters of NPPA and ASMP how they got their start and adapt that information to your own unique set of skills. Upgrading to to a more powerful camera allows you more freedom to create. You must have your own gear to completely take advantage of opportunities that come your way. You should also take the Business of Photography course and become interested in the ins and outs of conducting business properly if you choose to freelance. Being skilled, creative and meeting a deadline is mandatory.

Good luck to you. I look forward to helping your reach your goals.

Student News Services

Kevin, Kelly, Jessica
This month’s Society of Professional Journalists Quill Magazine features the Point Park News Service and a few of my photographs. The news service is coordinated by Andrew Conte of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The service consists of a writing section and a photojournalism section. I coordinate the photojournalists. Each student in the News Service has an opportunity to have their fresh new stories and images published in the Tribune-Review and beyond. Have a look and see how student news services are changing journalism.

GigaPan Magazine First Edition

© 2009 StartPoint Media, Inc

GigaPan Magazine

Check out the first edition of GigaPan Magazine featuring GigaPan images created by Point Park University Digital Photo Editing students. The students used the GigaPan robot camera as a tool of reportage to create articles and imagery in a new interactive way.

The student produced GigaPan images will be on display at the Point Park University Library during the fall 2009 semester. The library is located at 414 Wood Street in downtown Pittsburgh.

In this edition I was given the honor of writing the ‘About’ section. Thanks to Dror Yaron, Outreach Coordinator of CMU’s CREATE lab who partnered with my Digital Photo Editing class on this project and for the opportunity.

Old Post Office

a foggy midday view of the US Capitol from the Old Post Office building clock tower.

The Old Post Office building contains an observation deck in it's clock tower. The deck is 10 stories above the District of Columbia. It is not as popular or as famous as the Washington Monument thereby making wait time for the elevator to the top reasonable. A visit can be done in under one half hour.

Inaguration Exhibition and Panel Discussion

Thanks to the guests and participants in the Portrait of an Inauguration Photography exhibition and panel discussion.

Iva Provias, Sarah VanTasell, MaryEllen Whitmoyer, Jack Megaw, Kris Radder, Nicole DeSantis, Bryan Lawver, Mimi Murphy, Christopher Rolinson, Maxwell Rolinson

GigaPan Workshop at Point Park University

Adam Flanagan, a Point Park University photography student, shows his enthusiasm for the GigaPan robot during a recent workshop with Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab Dror Yaron.

Yaron is spearheading a movement to use the GigaPan as a tool of reportage through the use of notes and snapshots on the GigaPan website. The notes would contain full text stories relating to the subject of the snapshot.

Flanagan said one of his ideas would be to GigaPan photograph a graveyard and compile stories about the lives of the soul who rest there.

Inauguration Exhibition is Today!

Join Point Park University photojournalism students as they share their work and discuss their experiences during the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Portrait of an Inauguration
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Father Ryan Arts Center
Gallery Exhibit Opening and Panel Discussion
420 Chartiers Ave
McKees Rocks, Pa. 15136


Photographic Social Experimentation

On Monday, I conducted a small strobe light workshop with my photojournalism class. After the set-up and technical discussion in the studio my ambitious students took to the campus of Point Park University to practice quick light set-ups on unsuspecting subjects.

Armed with Nikon SB-800’s fired with Nikon CLS, they made their first stop at the Point Cafe and made a photograph of a patron eating dinner. They bored with that pretty quick and soon came up with a social experimentation concept of photographing people as they exited the elevator.

Two important things happened, first, they learned they are in control when the camera is in their hands. Most folks passing through asked the student photographers if they could still use the elevators, pretty humorous to watch.

Secondly they learned that most people don’t react negatively when photographed. This was a good lesson because students often express their fear of taking pictures of people beacuse they are initimidated by the reaction they think they will get from the subject. Some people didn’t react at all, most people smiled and walked away, only one person seemed annoyed at the experiment.

The experiment got their wheels turning about other ways to conduct the exercise and how it could be implemented into longer term projects for publication. Most importantly it helped them think quickly and creatively about the image making process.